A Sierra REC Exclusive – Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy Waterfall Tour  Spring 2016

Yosemite National Park –  Spring, a typical season of unpredictable weather patterns, fresh breezes , flowers and flowing waterfalls in the Sierra. But the last 4-7 years have been anything but typical, as warmer winters have caused severe drought, resulting in very little precipitation, lower levels of winter run-off and natural vegetation that is struggling to adapt and survive the harsh climate.

This why when we heard that the Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park were booming this spring after an epic annual snowfall in the High Sierra, Sierra REC (ie… ME) had to go and check out the sights and sound the Sierra’s most iconic waterfalls in Yosemite National Park.  This is not the easiest of Day trips to make, but that was the allotment of time we had to discover and enjoy what Spring had Sprung in Yosemite in 2016.

The Drive:

Old HWY 49 is really a great drive sometimes. Coming from the Carson Valley on the East side of the Sierra we planned our route across HWY 88 to Jackson Ca. and along HWY 49 through San Andreas, Angels Camp and Sonora. Spring green is everywhere right now and it looks like the foothills have just awoke from a long winter’s nap. The Reservoirs have so much more water than last April when we visited and the vegetation has welcomed the additional water from this wet winter.

Driving on the 120 East into Yosemite is always the toughest hour, maybe because of the excitement of getting into the park, however old Priest grade will not only save you some time but cause your blood pressure to rise if you dare take this cutoff road just east of Moccasin Reservoir.  The remanents of the Rim Fire are sure interesting to drive through as you approach Yosemite. The ground is now covered with spring-time green grass and flowers yet the scare is seen in the black trees that go for miles.

Yosemite National Park

Coming in on Hwy 120 E gives you a great opportunity for images of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel view pull off and then multiple cascades of spring run off waterfalls. Our first stop on this trip was Cascade Creek Waterfall.

What a great place to stop before heading into the Valley. Cascade Creek is a loud thunderous staircase waterfall that goes under a bridge and meets up with Tamarack Creek Fall about a hundred yards down the hill.  Tamarack Creek Fall can also be seen on this stop by walking back up the road a bit, but does not have the same viewing capacity as Cascade Creek provides.

Once back on the road we decide it best to pull off immediately in the Park and enjoy Bridal Veil Fall.

Such a beautiful waterfall, Bridal Veil Fall typically will run all summer , but obviously is such a bigger fall in the Spring. However this year it is probably close to four times the size as it was last April 15′.

From Bridal Veil, you also can look across the canyon to Horsetail Falls which had its glory moments about 6 weeks ago when the Fire Fall was showcasing its beauty for a few weeks.

Next we stop for a Valley view of Yosemite Falls. Can’t decide if I like this waterfall better from afar or up close. From the Meadow Across the Valley floor you can see such great panoramic views. Of course, you can’t see Lower Yosemite Fall near as well.

However from up close you get a great feel of the depth this water fall falls and get to enjoy Lower Yosemite Fall .

So what do you think? Up close or Far away?

Next up for our tour of Yosemite Waterfalls was to enjoy the spring run off falls that are popping up along the Valley trail to Mirror Lake. Sucha cool feature of coming to Yosemite in Spring when they have had a good winter snow fall. Waterfalls are falling off the cliffs in so many locations. Not as powerfull as their big brothers that we all know, But they still provide great beauty.

2016-04-02 13 mirror lake

Hetch Hetchy

On this trip we missed the Iconic Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. We skipped these great falls this season to take a trip back up HWY 120 to Hetch Hetchy reservoir and the chance to hike to  Wapama Fall and to see Tueeulala Fall.


This may have been my favorite waterfall to date in Yosemite. The surprise feature of the hidden Upper section that can’t be seen from the Dam and the added value of the bridge that gets you close enough to get wet, made this a spectacular afternoon hike and very rewarding day in Yosemite National Park, viewing waterfalls.

We hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the waterfalls in the Sierra this spring. They will all be running strong. Yosemite is a great place for a collection of great waterfalls.

Send me your pictures of your favorite waterfalls in the Sierra. Love to share your adventure.